invites the director Chris Graham and cinematographer Aaron Morton to screen their smash hit New Zealand Comedy
for our audience.
follows four thirty-something men who refuse to grow up and whose outrageous antics get them banned from their best friend’s wedding. Desperate to attend, they strike a deal with the minister; they can come only if they bring girlfriends to whom they have made a commitment – a life changing request for the determined bachelors.
The film is unusual for being a comedy – a genre New Zealand filmmakers rarely tackle – and for having a largely Samoan and Polynesian cast. That cast has been crucial to the film’s massive success in New Zealand, as many of the parts are played by the Samoan team behind the hugely popular animation Bro Town. This irreverent show raises issues of multiculturalism in New Zealand by offending all their minorities equally. Bro Town star Oscar Kightley co-wrote Samoan Wedding and plays the lead character, Albert.
Making his feature debut with Samoan Wedding is Chris Graham, New Zealand’s top music video director. He and cinematographer Aaron Morton discuss making Samoan Wedding, working with the guys from Bro Town and give our audience a sneak preview of their latest film, the psychological horror The Ferryman.
Jeff Skoll and Participant Productions
|George Clooney in “Syriana”
The transformation of George Clooney from good-looking heart-throb, to the star of politically engaged films like Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana owes much to someone you’ve probably never heard of, a Canadian billionaire called Jeff Skoll.
Skoll is also behind the transformation of Al Gore from the former dullest man in America to the star of the hit environmental film, An Inconvenient Truth.
As the business brain behind the Internet auction site, Ebay, Jeff Skoll oversaw the company’s phenomenal rise, and made around 2 billion US dollars when he left and cashed in his stock.
He went on to set-up the Skoll Foundation, dedicated to philanthropic work around the world, and Participant Productions, which provided the crucial funding for Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, and An Inconvenient Truth.
In an exclusive interview, Skoll talks to The Fabulous Picture Show’s Amanda Palmer about his ambitions for Participant Productions – as a media company with the task of taking on the “major issues that confront humanity”, through films that are genuinely entertaining AND make a profit.
But while he wants to change the world and make money, he will relax the profit condition on occasion. Skoll personally paid for the classic film about the non-violent Indian leader, Gandhi, to be translated into Arabic and Hebrew for the first time, and screened in the Palestinian territories.
There’s also look at the latest film funded by Skolls, the forthcoming, Fast Food Nation from director Richard Linklater.
Nazareth opens the first Arab Cinema School
|A scene from “Paradise Now”
We head to Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel, to meet the Palestinian student filmmakers at Israel’s first Arab Cinema School.
There are film schools in Israeli cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Arab students attend. But the difference with the Arab Cinema School is its entirely Palestinian funding and identity – which they want to reinforce with their films.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled Israel. But there was a compromise for those who chose to stay; they had to become Israeli citizens.
Now with sixty thousand Palestinians living in Nazareth, many feel their Arab brothers don’t understand the daily struggles they also face. Believing that other Arabs have branded them traitors for staying in Israel, a new generation wants to tell their side of the story, in their own language, through their films.
With the school director, Palestinian filmmaker Anan Barakat, the school aims to give its students a balanced approach to their filmmaking. Jewish academic Eudi Adiv is also on staff, teaching the students to avoid stereotyping themselves and simplifying their political past in their films. The school wants to encourage students to produce films that will speak to not only Israelis and Palestinians, but to an international audience, in the hope of finding peace in the Middle East.
Oscar Nominated Hany Abu-Assad, who co-wrote and directed the acclaimed Paradise Now, is also one of the lecturers at the school. He is part of the new generation of international Palestinian filmmakers providing an alternative perspective. His film, “Paradise Now” was an inside story about two suicide bombers on a failed mission, and won praise around the world.
Student Naeem Abu-Tayeh said not all the students want to make political films, they just want to show the world that they exist.